A Solemn Day of Remembrance

Overlayed on a photograph of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, there are eight boxes. 7 of these boxes are photographs of people holding handwritten signs, each with the names of people killed by the white supremacist who attacked their Gurudwara in 2012.  The names appear in this order: Satwant Singh, 65; Ranjit Singh, 49; Paramjit Kaur, 41; Suveg Singh, 84; Sita Singh, 41; Prakash Raj, 39; Baba Punjab Singh, 72. The final square has an orange background with white text: "Remembering Oak Creek". The logo for SAALT is placed under the orange square; it has maroon lettering.

Eight years ago today, a known white suprema­cist walked into a gurud­wara in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, and shot and killed Sita Singh, Ran­jit Singh, Prakash Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh, and Sat­want Singh Kale­ka. Baba Pun­jab Singh, who was shot that same day, died this past March from com­pli­ca­tions from the bul­let wound. He was 72. In their wake, they leave fam­i­lies, friends, and com­mu­ni­ties who live with their absence every day.

We hon­or their lives and acknowl­edge the con­tin­ued vio­lence aimed at Sikh com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S.. Of all report­ed hate vio­lence inci­dents impact­ing South Asians in 2020 alone, the major­i­ty were direct­ed at Sikhs.

These sev­en lives were cut short because of the vio­lent real­i­ty of white suprema­cy. And while one indi­vid­ual may have pulled the trig­ger that day, this coun­try’s long and recent his­to­ry of white suprema­cist poli­cies and rhetoric fueled his actions. The deeply seed­ed white suprema­cist and anti-immi­grant actions of this Admin­is­tra­tion can­not be sep­a­rat­ed from the actions of the vio­lent white nation­al­ist gun­man who tar­get­ed Lat­inx indi­vid­u­als in an El Paso Wal­mart one year ago, ulti­mate­ly killing 23 peo­ple.

Today also marks one year since Kash­miris were stripped of their semi­au­tonomous sta­tus, and the Hin­dut­va led gov­ern­ment of India imposed a bru­tal block­ade. Since then, we’ve seen an esca­la­tion of Hin­du suprema­cist fueled hate vio­lence that has led to more lives lostmore fam­i­lies sep­a­rat­ed, and more peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly detained. This hate is tran­scend­ing bor­ders. Case in point — the ad in Times Square today that has met enor­mous resis­tance from coali­tion orga­niz­ers.

From white supremacy to Hindu nationalism, all of these lives have been dehumanized and taken because of state-sanctioned policies that justify this violence. This means that our actions must include chal­leng­ing pub­lic offi­cials, over­turn­ing poli­cies, and under­stand­ing the transna­tion­al con­nec­tions impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties across bor­ders.

We’ve been encour­aged to see so many com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers become involved in the fight against hate vio­lence and police vio­lence, fol­low­ing an unprece­dent­ed lev­el of pub­lic protest in the U.S.. We have to keep going. Here and here are some ways you can get involved.

We send our love to our Sikh fam­i­ly and all sur­vivors of hate vio­lence on this extreme­ly dif­fi­cult day, and for­ti­fy our com­mit­ment to “Char­di Kala” as we fight for jus­tice.

​​​​​​​In remem­brance,
The SAALT Team​​​​​​​